Justin Ivey, Co-Editor and NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
The Colorado Mammoth acquired Zed Williams (5G, 1A) in a trade during the 2020 NLL Entry Draft for moments like Friday night. The Mammoth were visiting the San Diego Seals for the first game of a three game Western Conference Playoff and were able to squeak out a win with a big second half. Williams contributed at least a goal in each quarter, including the go-ahead goal in the fourth. The Seals controlled the first half and were led by a determined Dane Dobbie (3G, 4A). He not only tallied his 14th playoff hat-trick, but he passed Gary Gait for second all-time in playoff goals. The road win for Colorado sets them up to close out the series at home next weekend. Final Score: Colorado-14, San Diego-12
Williams opened the scoring, willing himself through his defender for the game’s first goal just 36 seconds into the game. San Diego quickly answered and jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead. Austin Staats (1G, 4A), Wes Berg (1G, 2A) and Casey Jackson (2G, 1A) all beat Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward (36 SV) before the five-minute mark. The Mammoth were able to quickly respond as Williams and Connor Robinson (4G, 2A) both scored within the next minute and the game was tied. The scoring stalled for a couple minutes, but both teams continued to push with urgency. Tre Leclaire (2G, 1A) broke the 3-3 tie, faking his way through the middle putting San Diego up one with 6:15 left in the opening quarter. Jackson would net his second of the game with 4:02 remaining extending the lead to two. The defenses started to settle in, and big hits seemed to be a common response for runners cutting through the middle. At the end of the first quarter, San Diego led Colorado 5-3.
A fairly balanced second quarter slightly favored the Seals. Both teams controlled the turf for runs, keeping the score close. Robinson strung two goals together in 33 seconds tying the game just 2:57 in. Jeremy Noble (1G, 4A) responded with an unassisted goal 6:20 into the second and Patrick Shoemay (1G) returned the lead back to two with a shorthanded tally just before the eight-minute mark. Colorado still did capitalize on that power play as Williams reached a hat-trick before half time under a minute later. Two goals from Dobbie came before the half though as the Seals defense contained the Mammoth offense. At the half, San Diego led Colorado 9-6.
The Seals ended the first half looking like they could reach an insurmountable lead controlling the game pace and style. The visiting Mammoth must have had one furious half time discussion, because the willed their way all the way to a two-goal lead over the first 10:30 of the second half. The opening goal from Eli McLaughlin (3G, 5A) was quickly followed by a classic outlet pass assist from Ward to Joey Cupido (1G). McLauglin then tied the game with a man up goal 5:26 in. A goal from Robinson gave Colorado their first lead since 1-0 and Williams tallied his fourth with 4:33 left to extend it to two. San Diego did get one back before the end as Dobbie assisted Mac O’Keefe (1G) with 3:13 left in the third. At the end of the third quarter, Colorado led San Diego 11-10.
Both Ward and Seals goaltender Frank Scigliano (29 SV) became brick walls to start the fourth quarter. Over six minutes of game time passed before Dobbie tied the game with his hat-trick goal. The tie held until Dylan Kinnear (1G, 2A) returned the lead to Colorado with 5:37 remaining. The lead lasted a whole 9 seconds as Brodie Merrill (1A) assisted Leclaire on the quick answer. Williams, who had been seeing as many as three defenders head his way at times broke the 12-12 tie with 4:38 remaining in the game. This time the lead would hold, and McLaughlin added an insurance goal just under a minute later to bring us to our final. Final Score: Colorado-14, San Diego-12.
The Colorado Mammoth will host the San Diego Seals in Game 2 in the best of three series on Saturday, May 21 at 9:30 PM EST.